Employment law is a broad-ranging practice area, comprising all legal matters related to the workplace. In this article, our employment law recruitment specialist Rebecca explains what the role of an employment lawyer entails.
Employment lawyers work with a diverse range of clients from across the public and private sectors and may represent an individual employee, a group of employees of an employer.
Cases are either respondent or claimant and either contentious or non-contentious. Because of the mixture of clients and cases, employment law can be a really interesting and varied practice area to work in.
Respondent vs. claimant
Firstly, employment work is broken down into respondent and claimant matters. Respondent matters tend to be those concerning the rights, duties and obligations of an employer, while claimant matters are usually brought forward by an individual employee or group of employees and concern their rights and obligations.
Usually, employment lawyers handle both respondent and claimant cases, although larger law firms tend to handle respondent matters exclusively on behalf of employers and companies.
Contentious vs. non-contentious
Employment law matters are either contentious or non-contentious, with most lawyers dealing with a mixture of the two. Non-contentious work includes advising on HR policy on matters such as redundancy and maternity leave, and drafting documents like employment contracts or employee handbooks.
On the other hand, contentious employment cases involve matters such as breaches of contract, employment tribunal matters, discrimination or harassment cases and cases involving an unfair dismissal of an employee.
Depending on the nature of work carried out, the day-to-day role of an employment solicitor can be very varied.
A significant chunk of time is spent drafting and preparing court bundles, employment contracts and other documents such as witness statements of applications. Employment lawyers also advise their clients on HR policy concerning things like maternity leave, sick leave and the termination of contracts. At larger law firms, solicitors often assist other departments such as corporate and insolvency teams, advising on the employment aspects of mergers and acquisitions or restructuring cases.
When it comes to litigious matters, employment lawyers engage in negotiations with the other side in an attempt to settle matters out of court, but sometimes, when this is not possible, they represent their clients in Court hearings.
Employment law is constantly evolving with new laws, regulations and policies brought in each year. Lawyers need to keep on top of these developments, so often spend time reading and researching to ensure that their knowledge is up-to-date.
As you would expect, the salary of an employment lawyer depends on how experienced they are and the kind of firm they work at, with city centre national and international firms paying the most generously.
An employment paralegal can expect to earn between £18,000 – £25,000, which rises to between £20,000 and £30,000 when they become a trainee solicitor.
Post-qualification, junior to associate-level employment solicitors are paid in the region of £25,000 and £45,000 depending on the size of firm, with senior lawyers generally earning between £55,000 and £70,000.
As alluded to above, employment law is diverse, so lawyers have to be adaptable and able to work on several tasks at once.
Employment lawyers are often required to draft letters, agreements and contracts, so strong drafting skills are essential for anyone thinking of specialising in employment. It’s also important for solicitors to have a high level of accuracy and excellent attention to detail.
Often, lawyers will be required to advocate for their clients at Employment Tribunals or Hearings, so good communication skills are a must.
Crucially, employment solicitors need to be personable and have a great deal of empathy. The clients they represent are likely to be dealing with unpleasant issues (or perhaps allegations) and it is the lawyer’s job to support them through a difficult time.
Employment law can be a very rewarding area to work in. It involves a great deal of interaction with clients as you help them to solve problems, shape policies and make decisions. If you’d like to work within a fast-paced and dynamic commercial specialism with exposure to with other practice areas and a broad range of work, then employment law may be the one for you.
If you’re looking to get into employment law or are an employment solicitor looking for a new opportunity, get in touch on 03300 245 606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential chat about your career.